Highland Show will focus on cyber crime

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The risks to the agricultural community of losing money through cyber crime is to be addressed at this year’s Royal Highland Show in a series of free presentations to be held throughout the event.

Police Scotland officers, along with staff from the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, will deliver cyber crime prevention surgeries on the Police Scotland stand (Avenue H) at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm on each day  of the four days of the event, from Thursday to Sunday, June 21 to 24.

Available to any member of the public attending the show, but specifically targeted at people working in the agricultural community, each session will highlight the types of tactics used by criminals to steal money through the use of computers, or how they can use them to infiltrate and lock access to accounts and systems, and then extort the end user to get their data back.

Gerry Grant, chief ethical hacking consultant at the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, said: ‘The agricultural community can be at particular risk at certain times of the year when farm subsidy payments are made, and this means that business bank accounts may have a higher than normal balance, and are therefore at greater risk.

‘There are a number of ways in which we can help people to protect their personal and business IT systems by giving advice on how to set up strong passwords for use in IT equipment for monitoring fields, livestock and so on.

‘Another issue is that of “spear-fishing”, tackling how subsidy payments could be under threat from criminals profiling both an individual’s and farm business accounts, which includes mandate and invoice fraud.

‘The sessions will also look at how cyber criminals can attempt to hold your data hostage. This is known as Ransomware and widely affected the NHS, as well as many other organisations, earlier this year. The staff hosting each session will clearly explain why you should always have a back-up of your data, held entirely separately from your main IT system.’

Detective Chief Superintendent John McKenzie, who is chairman of the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime, added: ‘Every farm is a business, and is therefore at risk from cyber fraud, in some cases even more so because of the nature of the business and how it operates.

‘As well as the agricultural community, I would encourage members of the public and business community to take advantage of this opportunity to engage with our staff and raise the awareness of cyber crime prevention.’